Friday, 17 June 2016

What I Loved: Debut novels by short story writers

This morning I finished 'Find Me' by Laura Van Den Berg.
'S*@! that's a good book,' I said.
'That's good,' my partner said. 'You needed one of those.'
He's right. I've had a course of finishing books that I know are skilful or accomplished, but I haven't actually enjoyed; or books that I've read because they're easy and I had no expectations about them. This is the first time in ages I've felt fired up about a book that I've just read.

Maybe the last time was when I finished 'A loving, faithful animal' by Josephine Rowe. This is what I'd started writing about that back in March -

I was so sure I'd love this book that I was already promoting it pre-release. Having devoured Josephine Rowe's short stories in 'Tarcutta Wake' and 'How A Moth Becomes a Boat', I was confident that her debut novel, 'A loving, faithful animal,' would be a must have that would end up on one of my Favourite Book shelves.

And I was right.

This is one of those books that I didn't stop to think about too much - partly because I read it in just a couple of sittings and partly because it's compelling, not in a frantic way, but more like I wanted to listen to it. Like when you catch up with a friend you haven't seen for a while and things have happened to them, not necessarily all bad but certainly big, and you want them to have the space to talk without being interrupted - would you like another cuppa or do you feel like a glass of wine is absolutely appropriate, to remind them that you're there, but otherwise it's their time. That's how I felt reading this book.

I don't know how these two women write the short stories that they do - their voices and characters are sharp, complex and poetic - and now they've each written a novel as punchy and dense as their short stories.

I have a deadline to meet and a meeting to get to but I just needed to take a few minutes to post about these two writers and their debut novels. You should read them.